In his text piece for Turf #1, the brand-new Image mini-series by famed British talk show host Jonathan Ross (making his comic writing debut) and the always brilliant Tommy Lee Edwards, Mark Millar makes a very astute observation regarding Ross’ writing style – Millar compares him to Don McGregor, and I can really see that, and not simply for the whole “compressed writing” style comparison, which is initially how Millar brings McGregor into the discussion. Like McGregor, Ross delivers a hefty read that gives you a consistent (and clear) picture of exactly what is going on in the story while still making room for extensive work on character interactions and a sense that every scene is serving the overall plot – for a book this dense to seemingly have no extraneous dialogue is really impressive.
This is a striking debut by Ross into comic book writing!
The basic concept for the series is that a vampire clan has decided to try to take over New York City’s gangs (and presumably then the city itself, and perhaps then the whole COUNTRY) during the height of Prohibition. The vampires are split in leadership between their moderate (and seemingly human-sympathetic) head and his aggressive brother.
On the human side of things, you have one of the heads of the Four major gangs in New York, a man who is tiring of his lifestyle. And then you have a young society reporter who believes that she is cut out for bigger and better things – things like breaking stories that MATTER to the world.
Finally, you also have alien bootleggers crash landing on Earth.
So as you might imagine from that description, there sure is a lot going on in this comic, but to their credit, Ross and Edwards take their time and devote a goodly amount of space to each subject (besides the aliens, who are obviously not yet totally integrated into the story – think of them like the DOOM! DOOM! DOOM! sound effects John Workman, letterer of this comic, did back in the day with Walt Simonson’s Thor).
Also, with Edwards, Ross has been given a brilliant collaborator who knows how to extend a page without losing cohesion – Ross has a lot of dialogue in this book, and yet Edwards keeps the story flowing so that the dialogue never gets too clogged up in a page. It’s really quite a sight to see, all those words never overtaking the human elements and the sequential work that Edwards is equally providing.
Here are some sample pages (courtesy of apparently an exclusive preview on CBR)…
(Click on the double-page spread to enlarge it)
See how much humanity Edwards adds to the process? It’s awesome.
What’s also interesting to note is how straightforward the story is – it really just is “Vampires try to take over the gangs of New York during Prohibition,” and yet, Ross and Edwards have created such vibrant characters that they extend past any sort of cliche that they might have otherwise been stuck in. They’re this evil cop named O’ Leary – Ross or Edwards adds this beautiful little touch at the end of a scene where we see him casually put out a cigarette on a corpse. These little touches are all over this comic.
So this was a very good first issue and, with the whole “how are they going to work in ALIENS?” angle hanging over the book, there’s a lot to make you want to come back and read some more!
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